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210                                    VERDICT   OX  INDIA
services with cheap food-grains.' He added that, * I hope and trust
that even now these Governments will shed their parochial instinct
and come to our assistance/
His hope was not justified. So much for brotherly love !
That is the one thing for which one will search in vain through*
out these riotous volumes of the Assembly Proceedings.. .fraternity.
Not once—not for a single moment, not in a single paragraph—is
there the least evidence that the members are prepared to forget
their personal squabbles in the cause of a wider humanity. Those
of us who used to follow the debates in, the French Senate before
the war were often sickened by the irresponsibility, the egotism,
and the corruption of the deputies, who had utterly forgotten the
greatness of France in the furtherance of their own petty interests.
But the French deputies were a collection of saintly altruists com-
pared to the politicians of Bengal. Reading these debates one has
the impression that the very atmosphere of the Chamber was
impregnated with some strange poison, in wilich public decency
faltered and died.
And the nature of this poison—though the whole of Bengal,
rises up and contradicts me—was the old, old curse of India.. „ k
religious bitterness. Hardly one of the members was able to visual-
ize the starving multitudes outside as men and women, they
thought of them only as Hindus and Muslims. This is so bitter an
accusation that I would not make it on, my own authority.   We
must allow India the unhappy privilege of convicting herself
from the mouths of her own people.
Here is an extract from a speech by the well-known liberal
leader, Pandit Kunzru, delivered at a mass meeting held at the
Calcutta University on October 15th, 1943 (the quotation is from
the report in the Hindustan Standard of October 17th).
'Even at the present time when the Hon'ble Food Minister is
seeking the co-operation of all classes, he has appealed to the
peasants in the name of the Muslim League to desist from with-
holding food grains from the market I Could there be a greater
tragedy for Bengal than such an attitude in this situation, appeal-
ing only to a section of the people, and rousing feelings detrimental,.
to the best interests of the population of Bengal ? *
It is significant that this attack on the Muslim League aroused